Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Album Review Bruce Springsteen's Devil and Dust

Bruce Springsteen - Devils & Dust Monday, April 25, 2005

Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Title: Devils & Dust
Rating: Niche

There are moments when “rock” music can be as significant an artform as other more recognized mediums such as painting, dance, or a Classical piece. Few “pop” artists are able to transcend their confines to create a sonic mindscape where words and music come together to create series of mental images that other forms of art are accredited with.

It’s been twenty-one years since Springsteen’s, ‘Born in the USA’ ruled the airwaves. Since his massive commercial bonanza Springsteen has calmly down shifted his career.

In many ways Springsteen has nurtured two careers; one with the E-Street Band and a series of solo & acoustic recordings. His first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, a wordsmith extravaganza, straddles the middle ground between these two careers. In a strange duality Springsteen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum sans’ E Street Band in ’99 although clearly his biggest successes have been with the band.

Devils & Dust is the third in the series of studio acoustic albums: Nebraska (’82), [Unplugged (’92)], Ghost of Tom Joad (’96) and now Devils & Dust. Generally critics have lauded most offerings by Springsteen. While Nebraska is widely appreciated, his acoustic albums have been dark and ponderous. Devils & Dust is more Steinbeck and less Little Richard.

I like Springsteen and I purchased this album in the new Dual Disc format; one side is a compact disc, the other side is a DVD that features four videos as well as the full album. Consequently the Dual Disc format allows the recording to be played on CD, DVD or CD Rom (computer) players. So it is convenient. This format allows the artist an expanded medium in which to communicate their art; music, album jacket art, and now video(s). The Dual Disc also allows the artist flexibility to include live, behind the scenes, and interview video. So the ability to communicate the art and concept is greatly expanded. The five videos included are; Devils & Dust, Long Time Comin’ Reno, All I’m Thinkin’ About, and Matamoros Banks. All the videos are shot in the same setting and resonate of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’… an empty 40’s ish house with bare walls, blistering wallpaper, and wooden floors.

The video pictures reflect the stark bareness of the music and the stories being told. Make no mistake; if you want an album to sing along with, to lift up your spirits, this ain’t it. This album’s 12 songs delve into brief lingering images that are true reflections of a harsher side of life. Appropriately the third track, Reno, includes an “adult” warning as it deals with the explicit transaction between a prostitute and her customer and drags the entire album down. On this recording Springsteen uses many of the non-E-Street Band members from, ’The Rising’ sessions including Producer Brendan O’Brien, Soozie Tyrell and The Nashville String Machine.

In the early ‘70’s the relatively unknown up & coming Springsteen’s career was condemned when he was compared to Bob Dylan. Today comparing a relative unknown songwriter to Dylan is rote but back then it was sacrilege. In retrospect, while most of the last 30+ years of Dylan’s career have been a wasteland, Springsteen remains firmly in control of his career and exercises his right to ‘turn off’ the Springsteen-Machine by releasing albums, such as Devils & Dust, that are tome-like literary works but hardly commercial or uplifting. Devils & Dust is as close to literature as music may be capable of; however, this album deals with images that do not appeal to me. For the die hard Springsteen fan this will be yet another in a long line of well above average to great albums; however, to the average pop music fan, unless The Grapes of Wrath happens to be one of your favorite books, Devils and Dust will probably not be something you’ll enjoy.

For certain this album requires multiple listenings before it begins to show itself and for a niche few it will be well worth the investment.

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